Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Buzzards and Pheasants

You may recall that last year there was a tremendous fuss when our lovely government proposed to bow to pressure from those who like to kill things for fun (ie those who shoot pheasants) to take steps to limit buzzard populations.  Lots of us inundated our MPs with letters of protest and the proposal was swiftly withdrawn.

Well now the BTO has published a short paper discussing the proposals and explaining why it was such a bad idea.  You can read it at http://www.bto.org/sites/default/files/u48/downloads/conservation-letters.pdf.  It's quite short and a reasonably easy read and I commend it to you.

Summary: predation of pheasants bv buzzards has a very small impact on pheasant numbers, while predation by foxes is vastly more severe.  Even road deaths kill many times more pheasants than do buzzards.

One piece of potentially useful research was lost when the gummint's daft idea was shelved, however.  Someone was going to look at changing the pheasant release pens to make them less easy for buzzards to use - shrubs instead of ground cover, removing perches which might help buzzards to survey the area, increasing the density of birds being released at any one time - and that might have been a useful avenue to pursue, but it's gone for now.

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